£16,435 - £21,990 Price range
49 - 62 MPG
The SEAT Altea is a good-looking small MPV that will suit a lot of families. It’s more stylish than rivals, competitively priced and comes with loads of kit as standard.
It’s not quite as versatile as some of its rivals but its cheap to buy, even cheaper to run if you pick a diesel, fun to drive, and well-built; what isn’t there to like?
The inside is pretty much standard VW-group fare; critics say that it’s solid, clean, and an attractive mix of high-quality black plastic and shiny silver bits.
The rears seat is old old-fashioned 60:40 split, so loses marks and as we’ve said, it isn’t as big as some of its rivals – although you can specify it in as an ‘XL’, which adds a bit on the length and makes it more useful.
What’s it like to drive? “Impressive” according to one reviewer, with others saying that the “dynamics are unusually sharp” and its ride quality is “smooth and soft”.
You can thank the fact that the Altea is based largely on the Mk5 VW Golf platform, which was a capable car in its own right. In short, “for those who enjoy driving, it ticks all the right boxes”; there are few other MPVs that are more fun to drive!
The diesel engines in the Altea draw plenty of praise. They’re “smooth, quiet and refined” in town and country and have bags of torque, which makes overtaking effortless.
If you pick the 1.6-litre TDI you’ll pay the lowest rate of road tax too, although it isn’t actually free. 62.8mpg is possible on the combined cycle, which isn’t to be sniffed at either. The 1.6 diesel can also be had with the smooth shifting DSG twin-clutch gearbox that is common throughout the VW group.
There’s also a 2.0-litre diesel with 138hp if you want even more grunt – it’s still economical and worth a look if you’re going to carry full car loads regularly.
The standard Altea and larger Altea XL have been given the firm’s Ecomotive badge, which brings with it the VW 1.6-litre common-rail, direct-injection TDI engine, a lovely little engine that features a stop-start system and energy recuperation technology.
This combination is sweet to drive and very economical in use; both models have CO2 emissions of 119g/km, which qualifies the Altea for very cheap car tax. Fuel consumption is officially rated at 62.8mpg and 55+mpg will be possible with care by most owners in normal use.
Its 104bhp doesn’t sound like much but the torque figure is a very healthy 184lb ft giving plenty of urge for overtaking and allowing the driver to change up early, riding that wave of oomph to save fuel.
The VW Group’s common-rail 170bhp 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine is also fairly new and takes the mini-MPV from 0-62mph in just 8.5 seconds, a highly impressive performance for an economical family car.
The Altea might be a good sprinter but it’s the mid-range performance that is its forte though; it can cover the 30-50mph sprint (a typical overtaking manoeuvre) in third gear in just 3.3 seconds, which is an epic performance.
It might not be quite as refined as its smaller diesel sibling though, with one reviewer saying that the performance was slightly spoilt by the “gruff” noise that it makes when it is extended.
Most owners should get around 50mpg in everyday use too (although probably not if they flex its muscle too often!) and CO2 missions are 146g/km.
The Altea comes equipped with six airbags as standard, and features anti-lock brakes and an electronic stability program to keep things in check when emergency manoeuvres are required.
You’ll also get traction control and Isofix child-seat attachment points – vitally important in a family car.
It’s pedestrian protection was rated as “good” by Euro NCAP, especially for younger pedestrians. However, the bonnet’s front edge is described politely as “unfriendly”, which would have cost it a few points.
Huge – that’s the most common way to describe the Altea. it’s cheaper than most of its rivals and just as good, if not better. Anyone considering buying a Golf SV should take a long hard look at the Altea; and if they don’t change their minds then they should have another look, and another, until they do!
The ‘XL’ model is only slightly more expensive than the standard Altea and offers much more space with no performance or economy penalty.
The SEAT Altea is one of the enthusiast’s choice amongst the mini-MPVs, if such a thing exists. The Ford C-Max can match it for fun along a twisty road, though, and can do many of the practical things much better.
If you can live with its lack of size and versatility you’ll find that it’s a genuinely accomplished driver’s car that has the added benefit of being cheap to run if you buy a diesel model.